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Free movement approved in women’s lacrosse

New rule is designed to increase pace and flow of the game

The NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel on Thursday approved a proposal to allow free movement in women’s lacrosse.

The change is intended to improve the pace and flow of the game by allowing players to continue moving after the official blows the whistle. Previously, all players had to stop on the whistle.

Under the new rule, players can keep moving after a foul or violation while the player possessing the ball restarts play. A 2-meter nonengagement area will be established around the player awarded possession of the ball.

Players will be free to move outside the nonengagement area. For violations of the nonengagement area, or delays clearing out of the nonengagement area, teams will receive one initial team warning. Subsequent violations and delays will result in a green card and immediate one-minute penalty.

After a change of possession, if the defensive team commits three fouls before the offensive team crosses the restraining line into its attacking end, the defending team will be assessed a one-minute penalty.

All shooting-space fouls and three-second violations, as well as all other fouls committed in the 8-meter arc, will result in an 8-meter free position for the offensive team.

There will also be a new setup for 8-meter free positions that will permit the defensive team to position players at the hashes adjacent to the 8-meter free position. Excluding the offending player who is positioned behind the 8-meter free position, players will be permitted to move freely outside the 8-meter arc; however, players will not be permitted in the playing area below the hanging hashes to the dots.

The Women’s Lacrosse Rules Committee believes the change will alleviate the concerns of shooting space and dangerous slides from low to high during 8-meter free positions.

For fouls that occur in the critical scoring area above goal line extended, possession will be awarded to the offense at the 12-meter arc, the offending player will go behind the offensive player, and there will be a nonengagement area.

For fouls that occur in the critical scoring area below goal line extended, possession will be awarded to the offense at the dot — located below the goal-line-extended area — the offending player will go behind the offensive player, and there will be a nonengagement area.

Women’s Lacrosse Rules Committee members believe changes made the past two seasons, including self-starts and adding a 90-second possession clock, set the groundwork for the new rules changes.

A majority of women’s lacrosse coaches supported this rules change during the comment period, as well as all other proposals that are effective for the 2017-18 academic year.

Draws

The panel approved a change to how draws will be handled next season.

Each team will be allowed to have only three players enter the midfield area to gain possession of the ball on draws. The remaining players must remain behind the restraining line until possession is established.

The change is intended to clean up that area of the game and help officials clearly identify fouls and possession on draws.

Also, the two players who initially compete in the draw will be required to position their sticks parallel to and above the center line.

Goal interpretations

Next season, if an official’s whistle is blown at the same time or immediately after a player releases a shot, a ball entering the net will be counted as a goal. If the goalkeeper saves the ball, the save will count.

Also, if a shot is released before the game clock expires and the ball crosses the goal line, it will count as a goal. Previously, the ball had to cross the goal line before time expired to count as a goal.

Yellow cards

On a team’s fourth yellow card, the offending player must serve a two-minute nonreleasable penalty. That will also be the penalty for each subsequent yellow card after the fourth yellow card is administered to a team.

Self-Starts

Players will be permitted to self-start in the final two minutes of each half and during overtime. Players also will be permitted to self-start if the ball goes out of bounds on the end line or sideline.